Visible Sessions

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Visible Sessions


This year’s event is centred on world music, urban and experimental sounds. Each session is themed either according to musical genre or to a culture, spanning a globetrotting range from Latino, Indian, Balkan and hip hop.

While Visible and Visible Sessions are both skewed towards linking up established artists with emerging artists, the latter is set on a more intimate stage with a driving force of encouraging creative development. The free two-week event, presented by Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) in partnership with The Arts Centre, is where you’ll get a taste of a diverse range of musical genres, and performances accented by collaborative efforts.

“We program two groups for each session and we encourage them to get together and collaborate,” explains Anita Larkin, Project Officer at MAV. Over the last week, Visible Sessions showcased a collaboration between Indian act, Bombay Royale and the Japanese sounds of Sakura Lassi, as well a day themed Balkan And Beyond featuring artists Unified Gecko and Opa! creating a blend of Turkish, reggae and funk.

The fascinating yet not-so-obvious marriage of two artists, particularly of different influences, excites the musical creativity within the parties involved. A session is usually composed of each artist playing their own set before the two get together for a little on-stage jam session. “It’s partly about trying really new different things – people who might not ever come across each other,” says Larkin.

This year’s event is centred on world music, urban and experimental sounds. Each session is themed either according to musical genre or to a culture, spanning a globetrotting range from Latino, Indian, Balkan and hip hop.

“It’s about providing artists with the professional platform to perform and show their work,” says Larkin. “So giving them that step-up. It’s about linking them as well and stimulating new collaborations and perhaps new work.”

“People sort of get busy doing their own thing and don’t often get opportunities to connect across genres or connect with people from other cultures, so it’s just opening it up a bit,” explains Larkin. I guess you could say Visible Sessions has become a bit of a musical matchmaking event, which, in actuality, isn’t so far from the truth.

On December 3, the event presents Living Hip Hop, a session that will bring together an exciting collaboration between Lotek & Rebel HIFI and Massive Choir. Originally from the UK but now based in Melbourne, Lotek, a.k.a. Wayne Bennett, is not only a renowned music producer who has worked with the likes of Seal, Leftfield and Roots Manuva, but also an established artist in his own right. Just last year, he won the Mercury Prize Award for producing Speech Debelle’s album, Speech Therapy.

Musically, Lotek’s sound is British hip hop through and through – the griminess is ever-present but where it differs is the unique, multilayered mash-up of dancehall and Caribbean-influenced rhythms. Through Visible Sessions, Lotek has now taken Massive Choir under his wing, working together with the individuals in the group as well as the ensemble for their upcoming session.

“We just got together for the Visible Sessions but we’ve had three or four rehearsals now and it’s been really good, so I’m sure we’ll continue afterwards. There’s loads of them and they’ve got really good energy and it’s good for me – it’s inspiring,” says Lotek.

Indeed, the Massive Choir – pardon the tautology – is massive. At any given time, it has up to 17 members from all different backgrounds. Having already sampled a track of theirs, Westside on their website, Lotek agrees that the youthful, talented ensemble is an exciting and much desired addition to the Melbourne music scene. Positive hip hop is the driving force behind their music yet stylistically, there are hints of India Arie’s soothing vocals, the edginess of rap, and the inspirational lift of background harmonies akin to gospel music which combine beautifully to make up the unique sound of this contemporary urban choir.

“I tried to integrate my band and what I do [with] what they do,” says Lotek. “Sometimes when people collaborate there comes a compromise that’s not quite fully either person’s ride, but I think we’ve actually managed to incorporate what Massive Choir do and what I do with my band.”

If anything, Visible Sessions is a platform for artists to have a bit of fun and collaborate with their fellow musicians. “It’s not just really a gig where you play your music and you’re trying to sell an album or you’re trying to make a bit of money or whatever,” says Lotek. “It’s more than that. That’s why it’s been really good for me because it’s really positive what the Massive Choir are doing. They’re bringing all these people together and they’re able to make music. I’ve been sort of helping out and I want to get into mentoring them a bit more. Like I’ve been to a few sessions and worked with some of the rappers and stuff like that, so yeah, it’s a different kind of gig.”

Visible Sessions presents Living Hip Hop at The Arts Centre, Curve Bar on Friday December 3 featuring Lotek & Rebel HiFi and Massive Choir. On Saturday December 4 they present El Reggae Columbiano with Madre Monte and Son Corners. There are also events on December 10 and 11, so check for more info. Sessions run from 4.30pm – 7pm on a special outdoor stage. It’s all free.